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Side Sleeper Shoulder Pain: Causes, Remedies, and Helpful Tips

Side Sleeper Shoulder Pain: Causes, Remedies, and Helpful Tips


Aoife O.
May 15, 2020

Shoulder pain at night can have many causes and make you feel sore and uncomfortable as you go about your day. Shoulder pain from sleeping wrong can be counteracted by sleeping on a quality side sleeper mattress or changing your sleep position. A good hybrid mattress for side sleepers can help achieve ideal spinal alignment and provide responsive pressure relief.

36 million American adults are suffering from Shoulder pain while sleeping. If you are dealing with shoulder pain right now, you could find relief in these tips and find restful sleep tonight.

Causes of Side Sleeper Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain at night can creep up out of nowhere or have a reasonable explanation. Rotator Cuff injury, bursitis, frozen shoulder, wear and tear, sports injury, or sleeping wrong could be the root cause but there are other reasons.

Other causes of Side sleeping shoulder pain could be:


Side sleeping with your arms outstretched, reaching too high in yoga, or trying to get something from a high shelf can result in an overstretching injury.

Overstretching Symptoms:

  • A decrease in range of motion
  • Slight pain
  • Unable to find a comfortable sleep position
  • A feeling of weakness in the affected arm

Poor Posture

Sitting at a desk or doing manual labor without taking care of your posture could put a strain on your shoulders and affect how you sleep.

Poor Posture Symptoms:

  • A feeling of weakness in the affected arm
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Body aches and pains
  • Back pain

Computer Neck Syndrome

Also known as "tech neck" syndrome. Keeping an improper posture as you sit at your computer or look down at your device can initiate muscular imbalance, resulting in tight and stiff muscles and could cause muscle spasms.

Computer Neck Syndrome Symptoms:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder blade pain
  • Fatigue

Bad Mattress

An inadequate mattress that does not provide pressure relief is a major cause of shoulder pain from sleeping.

Bad Mattress Symptoms:

  • Waking up with aches and pains
  • Unable to find a comfortable sleep position
  • Shoulder, neck, and back pain
  • Insomnia

How to Relieve Shoulder Pain From Sleeping on Your Side

Put a Pillow Between Your Knees

A simple solution to shoulder pain in the side sleep position is to put a pillow between your knees. Side sleepers could experience immediate relief from shoulder pain with this simple trick. This could reduce strain on your lower back and hips by aligning the spine better, preventing any further muscle strain that could exacerbate the shoulder area further.

Sleep on Your Other Side

Wondering how to sleep on your side without hurting your shoulder? One way is to flip over to your other side. Sleeping on your left side is great for digestion and is known to ease acid reflux and indigestion. If you slept on shoulder wrong, you may need to put a pillow behind your back so you don’t roll over on to your favored side.

Align Your Spine

Good spinal alignment is crucial to easing side sleep shoulder pain, a pressure relieving mattress could provide much needed support and comfort. Also, an adequate pillow under your head could protect your neck from night-time strains, the best pillow for shoulder pain will align the spine and thoroughly support your head.

Do Morning Stretches

Morning stretches are easy to do and a great habit to initiate as you battle shoulder pain after sleeping. Tight muscles can loosen with a consistent morning stretch routine and further strain and pain could be prevented. If you’re experiencing severe shoulder pain it’s advisable to consult your doctor before you begin any exercise routine.

Apply Heat to Your Shoulder

When shoulders hurt when sleeping it can cause much discomfort but a hot shower or bath before bed can work wonders. A heat pack could also provide relief but ensure it’s set on medium heat as this is considered more beneficial than extreme heat levels. Heat from a hot shower or heat pad could bring comforting relief to sleep better.

Apply Ice to Your Shoulder

Converse to a heat pack, ice can bring similar relief from shoulder pain at night. Put some ice cubes or an ice pack into a pillowcase and press against your shoulder. Ensure not to put ice directly against your skin as this will be too uncomfortable and may cause frostbite.

Try a Salt Bath

An Epsom salt bath could provide relief from inflammatory conditions and may ease shoulder pain while sleeping. Soaking in an Epsom sale bath could reduce stress and melt away aches and body aches and pains. It’s high in magnesium, therefore, it could strengthen bones and maintain a healthy immune system.

Get a Massage

A sports massage is an intense form of massage that could bring relief from a sore shoulder after sleeping. Deep tissue massage could ease stiffness and regain range of motion because it provides more pressure than a Swedish massage. Alternatively, you could use a handheld massage device which may suit some people who are unable to visit a massage clinic.

Find a Mattress Designed for Side Sleepers

The best mattress for shoulder pain will provide pressure relief as it cradles your body in a supportive hug. A mattress that makes you feel like you’re sleeping on quicksand could exacerbate symptoms. AirFoam™ mattresses are made of a modern and innovative material that brings superb pressure relief, is more responsive, durable, and one of the best mattress for hot side sleepers.

What Is the Best Mattress for Side Sleepers With Shoulder Pain?

Side sleepers with shoulder or arm pain after sleeping on side require a special type of mattress. Buying a one size fits all mattress as a side sleeper may not bring the comfort you deserve. A pressure relieving mattress that is made using modern sleep health techniques and research could provide sleep comfort unparalleled to memory foam or traditional coil spring mattresses. 


How to Sleep On Your Side Without Hurting Your Shoulder

If you’re a side sleeper and you’re experiencing shoulder pain at night, opt for a pressure relieving mattress and a quality pillow to better align the spine. Put a pillow between your knees to align the hips, and enjoy a hot bath before bed to relax and ease tight muscles.

Solutions to Shoulder Pain From Sleeping on Side

Some tips for how to sleep on your side: You could find relief by switching sides or temporarily sleeping on your back. If you’re experiencing sleeping on shoulders pain, make sure you’re sleeping on a pressure relieving mattress and always have a quality pillow under your head. A heat pack before bed could also help you sleep better with shoulder pain at night.


If you’ve slept on shoulder pain or experiencing sleeping on arm pain, it’s easy to reach for over the counter medication. However, a more holistic approach to battling shoulder pain at night could prove more beneficial to your sleep health and overall health.

If sleeping on side hurts shoulder, try switching sides or sleeping on your back temporarily. A pillow behind your back could help so you don’t flip over on to the affected shoulder.

When experiencing sleeping on shoulders pain, ensure you’re sleeping on an adequate pressure relieving mattress and a quality pillow. These could better align your spine and may bring more sleep comfort than traditional mattresses.

Shoulder pain side sleeper relief is best found in holistic approaches; exercise, gentle stretches, yoga, warm baths, massages, and a better mattress and pillow, could bring vital sleep comfort and may reduce shoulder pain at night.

Disclaimer: Nolah does not provide medical advice. All resources on the Nolah blog, including this article, are informational only and do not replace professional medical counsel. Talk to your doctor about any health, mental health, or sleep-related issues.

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